Keeping it simple brings optimal joy to the culinary spring season

Spring is about sampling fresh produce, from delicious bamboo shoots to broad beans, sweet peas and fish. Eating light and healthy is always an effortless joy.

Xindalu-China Kitchen: an ode to spring

Xindalu-China Kitchen, of Hyatt on the Bund, is one place that deserves a visit when new season arrives. And the Hyatt's chef de cuisine, Du Caiqing, has crafted a special menu that brings out the best flavors of the new season.

With lots of fiber, crunchy texture and mild flavors, bamboo shoots are an ideal healthy vegetable. And Du’s new menu highlights the treasure in different ways. The tossed spring bamboo shoots salad with shrimp roe, elevates the bamboo shoots' original flavor, while the braised spring bamboo with cured pork and sugar pea, infuses the vegetable with rich Shanghai-style sauce flavors.

Li Anlan / SHINE

Tossed spring bamboo shoots salad with shrimp roe (left), braised spring bamboo with cured pork and sugar pea (right).

And as for broad beans, also known as fava beans, Xindalu’s spring menu features a marinated scallops cold appetizer paired with pickled cabbage, fresh walnut and fresh green beans. The hint of spiciness comes from the green Sichuan peppercorn oil used in the dressing — making it a special dish.

The celery salad with Iberico ham is a hidden jewel on the spring menu. It has somehow manages to turn the humble everyday vegetable into an exquisite dish. The celery is pickled to absorb the sour and salty flavors of the stock, presenting a contrast of taste and texture to the delicious ham.

Li Anlan / SHINE

Celery salad with Iberico ham

In contrast to the bold meats of winter, the main entries of spring are also fresh and bright. A must-try is the Yangtze River white fish steamed in golden yellow chicken oil, which is topped with broad beans and slices of bamboo shoots.

Li Anlan / SHINE

Steamed Yangtze River white fish

My personal favorite is the pan-fried omelete with shrimp and toona leaves. It is an ideal dish to try if you are new to this special Chinese spring vegetable.

For dim sum, deep-fried yellow croaker fish spring roll with bamboo and shepherd’s purse has everything to look for this spring season.

  • Address: 199 Huangpu Rd
  • Tel: 6393-1234 ext 6318

New chef, new menu, new flavors

Fifty 8° Grill, the French restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, welcomes a new chef de cuisine, Mandy Goh.

For a starter, the chef's char-grilled romaine lettuce with crispy Byonne ham, grated manchego and hazelnuts is highly recommended. The salad has a little smoky flavor, served as a “boat” holding the ham, cheese and nuts. It makes eating the salad easier as well.

Li Anlan / SHINE

Char-grilled romaine lettuce with crispy Byonne ham, grated manchego and hazelnuts

The baked oxtail consommé with root vegetables, beef tongue and black truffle is a light yet flavorful soup from the new menu. The soup is sealed with pastry on top and is served very hot.

Steaks are generally the go-to dish at Fifty 8° Grill, but Goh has made a fish meal that steals the show. A whole seabass cooked in a shell of sea salt and egg white is served tableside with lemon and chive beurre blanc. The shell is cracked open and the skin of the seabass is gently removed. The dish boasts fresh flavors that are fitting for the season. It’s accompanied by grilled asparagus as a side.

The fish, which takes an hour to make, is enough for two to four people to share.

As for dessert, the acidic, sweet and refreshing lemon trifle (serves two persons) is a new addition.

  • Address: 111 Pudong Rd S.
  • Tel: 2082-9938

Li Anlan / SHINE

Whole seabass cooked in sea salt, served with lemon and chive beurre blanc and grilled asparagus

Gui Hua Lou: traditions revisited

Gui Hua Lou at Pudong Shangri-La is a top Huaiyang cuisine restaurant in Shanghai, and chef Gao Xiaosheng has renewed the menu this year to lift traditional dishes to a new height.

For spring, there are a few specials incorporating the seasonal ingredients.

Jicai, or shepherd’s purse, is a popular green in springtime in Jiangnan (region south of the Yangtze River). The vegetable presents a unique fragrance and is often added in huntun (wonton), dumplings and shengjian (pan-fried dumplings).

At Gui Hua Lou, Gao has created a braised shepherd’s purse and tofu cake composed of minced shrimp and pork, finely chopped shepherd’s purse and a rich stock with broad beans on top, which is smooth, rich and filled with the spirit of spring.

Ti Gong

Braised shepherd’s purse and tofu cake 

The malantou (kalimeris) wrapped in bean curd sheet is a light dish made with the season’s unique vegetable.

Ti Gong

Malantou wrapped in bean curd sheet

The classic braised spring bamboo shoot is a crowd favorite. The dark, sweet and sumptuous sauce corresponds to the crunchy bamboo shoot.

In addition, the Suzhou-style sea crab soup is a luxurious dish that highlights the original umami flavor of the crab meat.

  • Address: 33 Fucheng Rd
  • Tel: 2828-6888

Shinpaku: new izakaya on the Bund

If you are looking for a top Japanese restaurant with a view of the Huangpu River, top epicurean destination Three on the Bund has unveiled a new culinary project, Shinpaku, a contemporary Japanese izakaya-style restaurant.

The space, with a high ceiling and breathtaking views of the Bund, is decorated with modern Japanese minimalism and a Zen design style that combines simple wood materials and natural elements.

The Shinpaku concept is inspired by the Japanese tradition of sharing and gathering, especially highlighting the Japanese sake craftsmanship.

Ti Gong

New izakaya-style Japanese restaurant on the Bund: Shinpaku.

Shinpaku’s Kikisake-shi (sake sommelier) has selected over 100 different types of sake from different Japanese prefectures, from fresh and refreshing Namazake to ancient techniques’ Kimoto & Yamahai.

There’s also a craft beer bar integrating Japanese drinking traditions into the dining experience.

For the food menu, Shinpaku emphasizes on fresh ingredients, traditional dishes and innovative techniques. The seafood is freshly delivered every day with the tuna and eel flown directly from Japan to Shanghai.

An open kitchen allows guests to see the chefs go through the preparation process.

  • Address: 2F, Three on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Rd E1
  • Tel: 6323-0093

Special Reports